The Magic Word Won't Cut It

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CBS
The CBS News Political Unit is tracking the latest campaign commercials. Jane Ruvelson analyzes a Sierra Club radio ad, called Just Say Please, that criticizes George W. Bush's environmental record.

The Ad: On Wednesday, the Sierra Club released a radio ad in Nevada detailing Gov. Bush's environmental record. The spot, titled Just Say Please, began airing a day before Bush flew to Nevada to deliver his second environmental speech. The 60-second spot focuses on Bush's approach to pollution regulation, and asserts that Texas air and water have suffered as a result of his lax policies. Like the Sierra Club's latest television ad, which ran in Ohio last week, Just Say Please urges viewers to contact Bush regarding Congressional legislation.

Audio: Announcer: "George Bush has a plan to clean up the air and water: Just ask the polluters to stop. Problem is, that hasn't worked in Texas. For the last four years, George Bush has been asking power plants to voluntarily clean up their act. Today, the Environmental Protection Agency's latest data shows Texas leads the nation in industrial toxic air pollution and Houston has surpassed Los Angeles as America's smoggiest city. And toxic water pollution in Texas has increased. Truth is, the air and water are cleaner in many places only because of tough laws like the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts. But George Bush has worked to weaken water quality standards for Texas' lakes and lobbied Congress to weaken the Clean Air Act. Truth is, just saying please hasn't curbed pollution in Texas - or anywhere else. Call George W. Bush at 512-463-2000. Tell him to oppose legislation in Congress that weakens penalties for clean air and water violators. For our families, for our future."

Fact Check: Inaccurate on one count - the Sierra Club asserts that federal regulations are responsible for all of Texas environmental gains. Bush and industry leaders co-wrote pollution regulations which have resulted in a small reduction in emissions from older power plants. While the size of the reduction is almost negligible (a mere 2.4 percent) and represents a missed opportunity to get meaningful legislation drafted, Bush can take credit for one of Texas environmental gains.

The Strategy: According to the Sierra Club, Bush used his campaign stop in Nevada to "wrap himself in the green flag." Just Say Please attempts to blunt Bush's message and replace it with another: "Bush's solution to curbing pollution just doesnt work."

Just Say Please chastises the governor for failing to reign in his industrial friends - who have, incidentally, also contributed heavily to his political campaigns - and portrays him as an enemy of clean air and water. So far, the Sierra Club has taken this anti-Bush message to almost a dozen states outside Texas. They will spend $8 million educating voters in prepartion for Election Day.